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The Ultimate Amp Tweak Guide: "ML Method"

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor

This is definitely the FAQ #1 for me. I've talked about this "ML Method" a couple of times in the past but there hasn't really been a proper video explaining how it's done so I tried to create a quick explanation video... and failed miserably, so instead here's a 28min video going through the basics and more advanced parts of the "ML Method" of tweaking your amp settings. To summarize:

1) Choose and amp and IR you wish to use.

2) Choose your gain amount and start balancing your tone.

3) Use octaves or a half step up to really emphasize the balance of lows, mids and highs.

4) How to balance your tone:

Play two notes at the same time in this order: f.ex. 5th fret on the low E string and 6th fret on high E string to balance your bass and treble. Then the 5th fret on the low E string and 6th fret on the D string to balance your bass and middle. Then the 7th fret on the D string and 6th fret on high E string to balance your middle and treble. Repeat this process from the beginning as many times as needed until all three notes are balanced together.

5) I tweak presence and depth after that because I consider them strictly power amp controls. Generally I will opt to turn the depth control all the way off. It's not the kind of low end I personally like so I'd rather raise the bass knob and turn the depth control off in most cases. The presence control needs to be set the same way as bass, middle and treble. The way I usually do it is by playing the 12th fret on the low E string and 13th fret on high E string and balance them by using the presence knob alone.

Once you start raising your presence knob you'll start to run into problems if your mic position or IR is not good. F.ex. in this video at 12.30 I have the presence knob super high and it really shows how fine tuned that mic position is. It's very bright but it doesn't hurt your ear. All ML Sound Lab IR's are shot with this in mind as I feel you're supposed to have ultimate control over your tone instead of using EQ settings to cover up frequencies in badly shot IR's. Give it a try with some factory cabinets f.ex. FACTORY 73. :)

6) Obviously we all have our personal preferences so if you want more of a scooped tone you can easily drop the mids just a little bit to get that character and you'll still have a pretty balanced tone. Same goes for if you want more of a loose low end, you can experiment with raising the bass or even depth control for the desired effect but I strongly advice not to go too far from the completely balanced tone.

I'd love to hear how this works for you guys! :)
 

Brock

Experienced
Hey Mikko, thanks for posting this great video. I like that you demonstrated your process on high, mid, and low-gain amps.

A few questions:

1. How would you do the balance for extended range guitars? For example, my main guitar is a 9-string and goes down to C#.
2. Do you think using this method will lead to all amps of similar gain structures sounding the same?
3. I have several guitars, all with different pickups and a variety of woods. Should I create variations of each of my presets to compensate for each guitar's sound?
4. My take away from this video is it demonstrates how to achieve a tonally balanced sound with any amp. But it doesn't really show how you dial in character. Will you please do a video showing how you use EQ (e.g., the 5-band) when dialing in sounds? And maybe another on how you EQ guitars to sit in a mix?

THANKS!! :D
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
This is ultra cool, ML. You have a disciple on this technique.
Thank you bonkers! I definitely like having a repeatable and systematic method. This all kind of came from tweaking guitar tones without hearing them properly in a mix and trying to learn how to make sure the guitars will work great in a mix. :)
 

alcyppa

Inspired
If I'm not mistaken you've already shared this method before (or maybe I've seen someone else using a similar approach elsewhere).

Next time I'm going to rehearsal I'll try to create a quick patch this way to see how it goes.


And of course thanks for sharing these kind of tips.
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
Hey Mikko, thanks for posting this great video. I like that you demonstrated your process on high, mid, and low-gain amps.

A few questions:

1. How would you do the balance for extended range guitars? For example, my main guitar is a 9-string and goes down to C#.
2. Do you think using this method will lead to all amps of similar gain structures sounding the same?
3. I have several guitars, all with different pickups and a variety of woods. Should I create variations of each of my presets to compensate for each guitar's sound?
4. My take away from this video is it demonstrates how to achieve a tonally balanced sound with any amp. But it doesn't really show how you dial in character. Will you please do a video showing how you use EQ (e.g., the 5-band) when dialing in sounds? And maybe another on how you EQ guitars to sit in a mix?

THANKS!! :D
First of all: SO MANY GOOD QUESTIONS!!

1. The principle stays the same for extended range guitars which means that you kind of have to experiment which notes are in the low, mid, treble and presence areas of the spectrum. Usually the method stays pretty much the same but with those lower tunings you will end up lowering the bass even more to get a tight rhythm sound.

2. I don't think so. After all we're talking about wide EQs that are set to specific frequencies. Maybe amps with similar EQ sections can be made to sound close to each other. But obviously the IR will be most of your guitar sound anyways. I can't use this method to make a Mark IV sound like a Recto and vice versa if that's what you're asking.

3. You don't have to if you don't want to but I recommend at least a minor tweak for each guitar when tracking. Might be as simple as a fine tune with the bass knob.

4. Honestly I use IR's and different Cab Packs for character and amps for the type of gain/saturation I'm after. Pretty much all of the sound clips I've posted have not been post processed. This method kind of takes care of most if not all of the issues I've had with mixing guitars. I might have a wide Q scoop at around 750hz if I ever feel like the guitar mid range is burying the snare drum but that's it.

Good questions!
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
If I'm not mistaken you've already shared this method before (or maybe I've seen someone else using a similar approach elsewhere).

Next time I'm going to rehearsal I'll try to create a quick patch this way to see how it goes.


And of course thanks for sharing these kind of tips.
Yeah I showed this method real quick in the live stream with Chris from AxeFxTutorials. :)
 

B:ASSMASTER

Experienced
You joke about the sound being "bedroom tone", but then you immediately turn down the mids and bump up the bass (you did reduce the depth) and presence. :D
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
You joke about the sound being "bedroom tone", but then you immediately turn down the mids and bump up the bass (you did reduce the depth) and presence. :D
Yeah I noticed that too but it was all due to the depth control. Wayyy too much low end. :D

Quick question: anybody a fan of the depth control?
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
Okay so I've been getting some feedback about people not really hearing the balance of the two notes clearly. I think it's worth mentioning that this relies heavily on your hearing and we all have different ears to begin with. That being said the monitoring you use is very important when judging the balance of the two notes. F.ex. if you're using something like Beats headphones you're most likely never going to get the mids or trebles go over the bass as those headphones are not at all neutral. So use your FRFR system, real guitar cabinet, neutral studio monitors etc. for this method.
 

Hotplate

Power User
Not sure if you touched on the tremendous need (up front) to make sure the guitar being used is dialed in as far as setup and pickup height and balance, etc. Seems obvious to say this, but I've encountered so many scenarios over the years where this part of the equation was not addressed, or poorly done. Weakest link in the chain and all that..

Thanks for sharing the video and your technique- I'll see how it works for me next time I sit down to tweak (likely here soon w/ this new beta FW)..
 
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ThelmoRego

Inspired
Thanks for this Video Mikko, I noticed on the Mark IV that your bass knob was at 0, does this mean that you balance the low end using the faders on the geq page? Id love the settings of that page as well. Thanks
 

bvaughn0402

Inspired
ML, have you ever shared your Global preset before? If not, can you give any pointers on how you have it set up (including what IR you have setup as default for it)?
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
Not sure if you touched on the tremendous need (up front) to make sure the guitar being used is dialed in as far as setup and pickup height and balance, etc. Seems obvious to say this, but I've encountered so many scenarios over the years where this part of the equation was not addressed, or poorly done. Weakest link in the chain and all that..

Thanks for sharing the video and your technique- I'll see how it works for me next time I sit down to tweak (likely here soon w/ this new beta FW)..
Right now all of my guitars are setup just the way I like them and I tweak them back and forth to where I like feel like they perform up to their potential. All tremolo springs are muted, all strings are muted in the headstock, intonation has been fine tuned, pickup height is set according to manufacturers directions. I do experiment with PRS pickup height though for preference reasons. I want my neck pickup to be the fattest lead sound possible and I want my bridge pickup to have the most clarity for rhythm chunky stuff but I'd say they're still pretty much close to the heights advised by PRS. Thank you for the concern though! My guitar went a little bit out of tune when I raised it up on my knee and the tremolo bar got stuck in my pants... or maybe I wasn't wearing pants. Muhahaa!! ;)
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
Thanks for this Video Mikko, I noticed on the Mark IV that your bass knob was at 0, does this mean that you balance the low end using the faders on the geq page? Id love the settings of that page as well. Thanks
ML, have you ever shared your Global preset before? If not, can you give any pointers on how you have it set up (including what IR you have setup as default for it)?
That exact preset is actually matched (withing the amp block with advanced settings) to sound just like the real Mark IV we had in the studio until very recently. I have two global amp blocks built this way. The other one is a Mesa Boogie Roadster. They are not always 100% neutral/flat but they sound extremely natural and real no matter what IR I use with them. Right now I'm using Cab Pack 7 "SM57-MD421 01" Alloy IR with the Mark IV and Cab Pack 13 "SM57-R121 03" Alloy IR with the Roadster. Umm... I'm not 100% sure if I want to share these as they're very personal to me... hmm... okay maybe later in their own video. :D
 
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